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Bobby's Burger Palace (Flay's new chain) opens

Was driving by the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove tonight and noticed that the long-under-construction Bobby's Burger Palace looked like it actually might be open. Went back with my wife and daughter and found out that it had, in fact, opened just this evening. There were about eight other customers at 6 p.m. as it definitely seemed to be a "soft" opening - no "grand opening" signs or anything similar. The line grew as we ate.

Bobby himself was behind the s-shaped counter that stretches the length of the restaurant, doing quality control and chatting with customers. The setup is that you order and pay at the stand up front, get your drinks and head to one of the four-tops, six-tops, or the long, curving counter, and they deliver your food when it's ready. Decor was modern and pleasing. Menu was reasonably creative, 10 different burger topping combinations that you can get with an Angus beef patty, ground turkey burger, or chicken breast. You can also get a "griddled cheese" regular or deluxe (deluxe has brie, goat cheese, tomato and bacon), and a "crunch" salad with tortilla chips. Of course, you can also get fries, onion rings, shakes and malteds, as well as a menu item called "hot potato chips with blue cheese sauce."

The burgers (cooked medium only) looked like 1/3 pounders, and were all $7.50, with the exception of the basic cheeseburger, which was $6.50. I had the "Santa Fe Burger," which was supposed to have queso sauce, roasted green chilies, and crumbled tortilla chips, but came out with jalapenos instead of chilies. My wife had the "Bobby Blue Burger," topped with blue cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Other choices include the "Buffalo" (redhot sauce and blue cheese) and the "Miami" (pressed with ham, swiss, pickles, mustard and mayo).

Both burgers were hot, tasty, and juicy, well seasoned and pink in the middle, served on a soft potato roll. There was a rack of condiments that included squeeze bottles of chipotle and regular ketchup, yellow mustard, a "burger sauce" that looked like steak sauce, and jalapeno hot sauce. I liked the chipotle ketchup and jalapeno sauce. Our fries came with a dipping sauce that seemed to be mayo and chipotle or chili powder. Onion rings were huge and beer-battered, but you only get four for $3. Fries were $2.50 for a big cone full of crinkle-cuts, and the shakes were $5.

Overall, we really liked the burgers, although they seemed a bit small for the price (they were bigger than a Shake Shack burger, but not much). The fries and rings were also enjoyable. Total for two burgers, fries, rings, one Boylan's Orange soda, one coke, and one Dundee Honey Brown Ale was $30. The staff was very friendly, and it was cool to see Bobby there and seeming to be very interested in the quality of the food going out. I contemplated going up to him and challenging him to a burger throwdown, but thought better of it.

On the way out, I noticed they also have frozen margaritas for $4.50. Next time, as we'll definitely go back.

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  1. "The burgers (cooked medium only)" (in other words medium well)

    Instant disqualification to ever be considered a great burger joint.

    16 Replies
    1. re: byrd

      I would never buy a burger cooked medium.

      1. re: dolores

        If I go to burger joint I always ask up front if they will cook rare. If they say yes, then I order medium-rare.
        I have less respect for Bobby Flay than ever now that I hear that he actually *encourages* medium. That shows some type of ignorance. I went to Mesa grill a few times when it first opened and loved the food (hate the decor though.) Then fame and especially money got the best of him.

        1. re: jimpeggy

          All the burgers have an asterik next to them on the menu and it says can be cooked to order. I find it hilarious how quick people are to bash this guy. Anyone who knows anything about the food world knows that he's won awards for his generosity and time that he contributes to young cooks and drawing attention to local eateries. Some people just can't appreciate him because he's on television.

          1. re: jhopp217

            Winning awards for generosity and volunteering, does not a good chef make. I've eaten at more than one Bobby Flay restaurant and I have always been underwhelmed. However, I do like some of the recipes he makes on his various shows.

            1. re: HungryRubia

              I'm witcha on Mr. Flay. Let's just say, he's no Eric Ripert.

              1. re: Clambelly

                He's not trying to be Eric Ripert. who can?

          2. re: jimpeggy

            ive nevr reakly like flays food, but i can say i have met hin on a few occasions and he is genrally humble nice noraml chap

            1. re: jimpeggy

              isn't there some kind of law against any chopped meat being served less than at least medium-well since the whole e-coli scare?

              1. re: betsydiver

                No, though warnings must be given (usually printed on the menu).

                1. re: Scott_R

                  YOu can get a rare burger at any pub or restaurant. NO such law. It's the source of the meat, and the handling of the meat. 5Guys will not respond when they were asked why they only cook well done, but it's a sure bet that they don't trust their employee's handling methods...

                  1. re: menton1

                    I doubt it's the employee's handling they're worried about entirely. Feedlot beef, the way it's raised and processed, is very likely to arrive with plenty of pathogens to worry about at lower temps even before handling. I wouldn't order a less than well done burger anywhere on a dare. I cook to medium when I grind my own at home.

                    1. re: mcf

                      Well, I get rare whenever possible, and I'm still going strong. Even get steak tartare on occasion at better restaurants. Well done? To me that's a waste of a good burger...

                      1. re: menton1

                        I can deal with well done burgers, but not any other meat. And I prefer med rare to rare as a rule with others.

                    2. re: menton1

                      Menton: I sent an email about this to 5G; strangely enough, rather than replying directly they forwarded it to the manager of the local franchise (where I'd gone), and he sent me a nasty email in response.

                      As if I needed another reason not to go there.

                      1. re: Scott_R

                        They won't give an answer to the major media, so don't expect one via email...

                        Get thyself to a Smashburger...world's apart. A nice burger.

            2. re: byrd

              We ate at the NJ BBP tonight. We always ask if they will cook rare if they state medium is their standard. The cashier said they will honor customer's requests. We ordered two rare basic burgers. It did take about 5 minutes to get a table and another 10 to be served. This outlet is about 2 weeks old and they may not have their rhythm yet. The burgers arrived absolutely rare (red in very center) and were very good. The (yes, pricey) dark chocolate shake was spectacular, ice cream, not air. My husband liked the onion rings. They do serve any burger on a salad of greens which is a plus. Service, by the way is EXCEPTIONAL. We would do it again.

            3. Dude, jalapeƱos *are* chiles (a spelling variant of chili); the word is simply used generically to refer to the hotter variants of the fruit of the Capsicum plant (bell pepper is in the Capsicum genus, but isn't referred to as a chili pepper). Chili sauce could mean it's made with jalapeƱo, poblano, habanero, etc.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Scott_R

                C'mon, Scott. A "Santa Fe" burger? Home of the famous green chile cheeseburger? If it says "roasted green chiles" on the menu, I'm certainly not expecting to see a few rings of pickled jalapeno on top of my burger instead of chopped green chile. I know jalapenos are chile peppers, gimme a break.

                1. re: Lono37

                  so what kind of chile is traditionally on a "santa fe" burger? (sorry, just never heard of a santa fe burger)

                  Hatch chiles, I'm guessing? If so, I've never seen them available out here. Maybe jalapenos aren't too bad of a substitute given similar heat levels? Poblanos and anaheims are way too mild, I'd think.

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    "Santa Fe burger" is just Flay's name for what is widely known as a "green chile cheeseburger" in New Mexico and other parts of the southwest. Typically roasted diced green chilies, Hatch or Big Jims, etc. on top of or beneath the cheese of a cheeseburger.

                2. re: Scott_R

                  "dude"......most southwesterners, and most all texans, separate out jalapenos and mean other chili peppers when refrring to raosted green chilis, which for me, coming from texas and new mexico, would mean poblano, anaheim, big jim, etc.

                3. i hadn't heard about this.if he's looking to expand,i wouldn't mind a place in nassau of some kind.rockville centre has a couple of vacant spots at the moment.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: davmar77

                    I'm hoping for Roosevelt Field or The Source...more Simon properties.

                    1. re: GCGuy

                      If anyone opened an operation described above without Bobby Flay's name plastered all over (nothing against Bobby Flay, he's a very talented individual) on Long Island it will last six to nine months, especially if you're paying mall rental prices. With Bobby Flay's name it will last a couple of years, depending on how big a tax write-off he needs.

                  2. I think cooking burgers to medium is fine. A steak often loses tenderness if cooked that much, but 80% lean ground meat doesn't really have that problem, especially considering that it can be seasoned all the way through. If it's good enough for White Manna and Shake Shack, it's good enough for me. Flay's place looks pretty good, although I might not bother with the "upscale" extras.

                    1. Tried it - wil return to Five Guys Hamburgers in Levitown and wait for outlet in Smithtown. Burgers were on small side, well done, and overly salted. No choice on preparation of burger. Fries good for frozen crinkle cuts. Crunchburger was a cheeseburger with potato chips embedded in the cheese. Anyone other than Flay wouldn't last the year. Hype will drive them in but nothing there to keep them. Just what LI needed - the McFlay burger. This could be his first humbling experience.

                      1. How could anyone possibly need another burger place?!

                        1. My husband and I went to the new location in Eantontown last night--our first visit. The seating was not great, as we never ate at shared tables before. The two women across from us were talking incessantly and loud and were very annoying. These women were shortly replaced by a family and this woman was singing. We sat at a long table that was so narrow that when the two women left and their space was being cleared her fries were left on the table because the busboy thought they were mine. The burgers came out very medium-well done. They were of good quality--it was a shame that they were so overcooked. Fries and onion rings were good, but shakes were small and overpriced. I went back to the cashier for napkins when I realized that we didn't get any and there was no silverware to be found anywhere. Other diners did receive napkins when their food arrived, so I guess our server just forgot ours. For two "palace burgers", one fries, one onion rings and two shakes our bill came to a little over $30. Although we were looking forward to this visit, we will not be going back.

                          1. I just ate at BBP in NJ and it was a disaster. After 40 mins our take out order finally arrived just the person before us returned to tell them that the burgers in her order were under cooked. That should have been a hint. Ignoring this we went to the car and of course found warm, under-cooked burgers. At best the burger would have been unexceptional but after the disaster that preceded it we were angry. The fries, also average, were room temperature. Seriously bad experience in every sense. All this and it cost $27 for two burgers, fries and sodas.

                            Don't waste your time or money.

                            1. My husband and I tried out the new Location in Paramus. We were really let down. There has been soo much hype about this place and it is really just an over priced Fast Food Chain and nothing special. While our Burgers weren't bad they were nothing to special either. They are on the small side and my husband was still hungry after his Buffalo Burger and French Fries.
                              They Seating is horrible... You have to sit with other people and can't have a private conversation and you have to listen to other people's rambling.
                              At 7pm there was a Huge Line all the way outside waiting.

                              I would rather go to Fudruckers or Get a Buger from a Diner

                              1. Had lunch there.

                                Much ado about nothing.

                                Hamburger was small. I ordered it medium-rare and when it arrived it was medium and quickly changed to medium-well and then well-done. They got me a new burger and it was rare, but quickly self-cooked to well-done. The problem is that the burgers are small and thin and cooked at a high temperature. Once plated they continue cooking until they are well-done. If they were thicker, they could get the sear on the outside, and more slowly cook them so when removed from the heat they do not self cook.

                                Fries were just OK, but loaded with salt. I would have asked for no-salt, if I were to return, but since I will not be back there, why bother. The fries were warm, but not hot. My friend had the sweet potato fries which were OK. After all the salt from mine, I could not say if they were salty.

                                There are very few choices besides burgers. No side salads, no desserts. Price for burger, fries and a soda was over $11. I see one of the previous posters mentioned Buffalo Burgers, but I do not recall seeing it on the small menu selection, but it may have been there.

                                If you want a good burger, try Major's in Woodbury or East Meadow and order it with their home fries. It will probably cost the same but it is a great burger. Or, if you are near Smithaven, go a half mile east to the Good Steer for their burger, fries with fried onion ringlets. The Good Steer's burgers are far better and the onions are excellent.

                                Bobby Flays could not win a Throw-Down with any of the local diners in town.

                                The staff was pushy, clearing everything instantly trying to move us out of the table. Earlier, they pestered us multiple times if you wanted more soda.

                                I give this place less than an additional year of existence at SmithHaven Mall.


                                18 Replies
                                1. re: Fred19

                                  Interesting, lots of complaints about :medium"cooked burgers here, yet 5 Guys, a wildly popular burger joint, only serves burgers that are cooked until they are like shoe leather.

                                  I agree, I like my burgers rare, but apparently, these reataurateurs think that a large segment of burger-eaters like them cooked until on the verge of evaporation...

                                  1. re: menton1

                                    I so agree! I went to Five Guys once, and the burger was dry and tasteless.

                                    I go for medium-rare.

                                    1. re: Scott_R

                                      i think you stumbled into some bad luck then. you goto a clean location of 5 guys (avoid the one in midtown manhattan and georgetown- too much traffic) and you're going to get a good burger. only drawback is their lack of cheese variety and their sauteed onions could be better.

                                      otherwise, for 6 bucks- that, is a good burger.

                                      1. re: conordog

                                        I've been to a couple of Five Guys in New Jersey and I would not go out of my way to have a burger there regardless of price. I personally do not like the finished product they deliver to you.....I can deal with an overcooked burger, but not when it comes on a gummy bun.

                                        Re: otherwise, for 6 bucks- that, is a good burger...........I realize you are mentioning high rent areas, so I understand the charge higher prices, but here in Jersey, the last time I was at Five Guys the burger was under four bucks for a 3.3 ounce precooked patty (company specifications).....that extends to $16.00 per pound and there are many places I would rather go to for a better burger and value. Even if the burger was less than two bucks, there is a better option locally in White Mana, fortunately for me.

                                    2. re: menton1

                                      I think it's all about protecting themselves from lawsuits in case there is something wrong with the meat.

                                      1. re: MisterBill2

                                        Of course; I don't think any real chef would choose to make a hockey puck as a preference. But the problem can (largely) be avoided by grinding the meat on the premises.

                                      2. re: menton1

                                        To cook a good burger that you can serve the way a customer likes it you have to put a hot sear on both sides and slow cook afterwards. The slower cooking (lower temperature) does not permit as much self-cooking. When the burger is thin to begin with, it is difficult to do this.

                                        Whenever I order a burger at Major's, it is served the way I ordered it, with just the tiniest bit of self-cooking towards the end when I am finishing it. It is also nice and thick.

                                        It is difficult to do a thin burger to order and hope that it stays that way. For the bucks that you pay, the burger should be bigger. I would prefer a wopper hands down over Bobby's burgers.

                                        On this venture the Iron Chef has lost.


                                        1. re: Fred19

                                          Mr Bill: If there's ANYTHING wrong with the meat, I don't want it at all, well done, rare, or anyway!!! Besides, these places tout their meats as "high quality". 5 Guys has a whole spiel about their meat, and then they insist on serving it grossly overcooked!!

                                          My ultimate burger is DB Bistro in NYC, and they won't cook it past medium rare, even if you jump up and down and protest...

                                          1. re: menton1

                                            sorry, but db bistro isnt serving a burger- theyre serving a novelty. a real burger isnt stuffed with foie gras and short ribs. you also wont see me eating the $50+ burger at the old homestead. does it taste ok? yes. but hq kobe just doesnt bring the flavor you want to a burger. you need at minimum 20% fat beef blend and imo, it should be all beef. anything less ruins the flavor imo. would rather have a 5 guys or if god allowed it, krazy jims blimpy burger in ann arbor michigan.

                                        2. re: menton1

                                          My problem with the food goes beyond the rare/medium/ well issue. It is over priced and nothing special.

                                          I will repeat what I said and another poster also commented... You can get a MUCH better burger from DINER.

                                          1. re: menton1

                                            menton1, you are a big fan of that "Charbroil" place on route 46, yet they clearly cook their burgers to death. More than medium, that's for sure. And dry.

                                            1. re: tommy

                                              menton1 also despises chains, but she likes the pancake house in Ridgewood. Go figure.

                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                She's a he. :)

                                                The Pancake House in Ridgewood isn't a chain, is it?

                                                1. re: tommy

                                                  There's a location in Bradenton, Florida....check out the link to *our rewards*. It references NJ Monthly Magazine. I would further add I think the pictures of the slideshow of their food looks horrible.....not the pictures, the food itself.

                                                  Chain..... maybe, maybe not.....I'll let others opine on the true definition of a chain restaurant. I just poking fun on someone who I view as someone who likes to trash places without ever having gone there.


                                          2. re: Fred19

                                            Fred, I'm not playing devils advocate, but honestly, other than Burger King or McDonald's, where can you go out for a burger, fries and a drink and pay less than $11 and have the food actually taste decent?

                                            1. re: jhopp217


                                              Try Major's in Woodbury or East Meadow. The price will be close to $11, and the burger will be a whole lot better.


                                              1. re: jhopp217


                                                Foster's Grille in Nesconset, LI. Before you go there, do a search for coupons on the net.
                                                Their burger is superlative. They come with fries and soda.


                                                1. re: jhopp217

                                                  Try Burger 9.5:
                                                  The lunch menu is cheaper, but I prefer the regular menu (I like a thicker burger), and I think you can squeeze in burger/fries/drink for under $11. I just went there last week with a friend and we enjoyed our burgers quite a bit.

                                              2. Had lunch today there at the Smithhaven Mall one. Burger was good and a decent size, but the various sauces and the fries sucked.

                                                It's okay. It's just not worth $13, though. I'll go to Five Guys or American Roadside and have a comparable meal for half the price.